Revolutionary Measures

Living the road warrior dream

British Rail Class 90 number 90012 stands at L...

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The last week has been a bit hectic for me, leading to a lot of working on trains, park benches (I particularly recommend Parker’s Piece in Cambridge for scenery and ambiance) and coffee shops. Armed with my laptop and dongle I’ve felt every bit the road warrior, even if (as now) I’m just typing up my blog.

I’ve previously moaned about the lack of available power sockets in the big wide world, but this time I wanted to compare how easy it is to work on particular train routes. And given I’ve been travelling on key rail routes to tech and business hubs such as Cambridge, Bristol/Bath and Ipswich/Norwich I hope my experiences have a wider interest, rather than just being my normal moans and rants.

Top of the lines for me was First Great Western to Bath – reasonable space to spread out and most vitally a POWER SOCKET. My forbidding presence meant I got two seats to myself so didn’t have to share the plug, and wifi worked fine. There are even touchscreen TV things in the seat backs for if you aren’t working. Only downside was the ride was a bit wobbly in places, scattering my notes across the carriage, but a definite 9/10 for the West Country.

Second, with an average (5/10) performance, was National Express East Anglia from Liverpool Street to Suffolk and beyond. Not as much space as First Great Western but a bit more legroom and you can pay for wifi if you are dongleless (though as it’s the same price per month as a dongle it seems a bit expensive). And a nice smooth ride (probably due to the lack of hills).

Surprisingly, bringing up the rear, was the train to the tech and innovation hub of Cambridge from Kings Cross. Obviously the shortest journey of the lot but definitely the most basic. It didn’t help that in the midst of our Indian Summer they’d switched the heating on, just in case the Underground hadn’t got you sweaty enough and the train was crammed to the rafters. No legroom or tables meant second degree burns to my thighs from my laptop and having to contort myself to type and read notes at the same time. There was no built in wifi on this mobile Black Hole of Calcutta.

Everyone loves moaning about trains, and I’m no exception (as testified by a voluminous correspondence with National Express) but what this demonstrates to me is that First Capital Connect, the operator of trains to Cambridge needs to up its game if it is going to give entrepreneurs the space and tools to innovate while on the move.

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September 30, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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